When my thoughts turn to my favorite Chinese dishes over the decades, my tastes seem to evolve just as Chinese food in America has.
Five years ago, I wrote a Menuism article about why I generally did not eat at Chinese restaurants in the United States that were more than 20 years old. My reason for this 20-year rule was that Chinese food in America was evolving at a surprisingly rapid rate, with diners and chefs endlessly looking for that next more delicious, more innovative Chinese food creation. Because innovation is more likely to come from new players, and because existing successful Chinese restaurants are likely to stick with what works, I decided that after 20 years, most Chinese restaurants are behind the curve.(more…)
With something in the neighborhood of 50,000 Chinese restaurants in the United States, Chinese food is one of the most popular types of ethnic food here. Indeed, Chinese restaurants outnumber the 14,000 McDonalds locations, and even the top five fast food outlets combined. Towns with as few as 1,000 residents sport a Chinese restaurant.
The popularity of Chinese food in the United States is a testament to the popularity of the food itself. But when you consider all of the obstacles that had to be overcome, from the Chinese Exclusion Act to racial discrimination, from boycotts to legislation backed by labor unions, the endurance of Chinese food is also stunning.(more…)
West Yellowstone, Montana offers authentic Chinese food options that Los Angeles Chinatown doesn’t. Let me say that again: You can eat Chinese dishes in Montana that you can’t eat in downtown L.A.
I am in no way suggesting that Montana is any kind of Chinese dining destination. However, this improbable but true statement combines two recurring topics I have addressed: the emergence of Mainland Chinese cuisine and the effect of Chinese nationals across the United States.(more…)
A few years ago, I first discussed the concept of the “Chinese stomach,” which describes the preference of Chinese diners for Chinese food over other types of food. My initial article focused on Chinese travelers who prefer to eat Chinese food — even of inferior quality — on their trips, rather than what might be considered higher quality host country food.
Doubters argued that tour operators served low-quality Chinese food to cut costs, but I found the “Chinese stomach” at work throughout the United States under other manifestations. For instance, Chinese food is used to entice Chinese Americans to casinos along the East and West Coasts. When college campuses see surging Mainland Chinese student populations, authentic Chinese restaurants and food trucks quickly follow. On these campuses, some Chinese students will even shell out $50 delivery charges for food from far-flung restaurants. And at upscale shopping malls frequented by well-heeled Chinese tourists, Chinese restaurants either open onsite or nearby restaurants adapt their menus to serve these visitors.(more…)